In the Pipeline: Silvertips’ Jacob Wright finding success

Wright is one of three players on Everett’s 50-man protected list to play for Fraser Valley

An Everett pipeline is forming in Fraser Valley.

After signing 2001-born forward Gage Goncalves last year and drafting Dylan Anderson in the fourth round in 2017, both of whom played for the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds last season, the Silvertips signed another Fraser Valley player, 2002-forward Jacob Wright, in January.

“It’s nice to know some familiar faces there,” Wright said. “It makes the adjustment a lot easier since I already know some guys on the team.”

The 16-year-old center was placed on Everett’s protected list last spring along with his midget teammate, Brendan Williamson, and competed at Silvertips training camp before this current season before being offered a contract, which he said he signed almost right away.

“I went to main camp and I met the organization and the coaches and stuff,” Wright said. “I got to see what Everett’s all about. It looked really appealing to me. I loved the city and everything and when we started to talk about a contract, I was super excited. I knew I wanted to sign that contract right away.”

His midget teammate won’t make it to Everett with him. Instead, he’ll stay a Thunderbird, as Williamson was the prospect traded to Seattle in a deal for Zack Andrusiak.

Williamson and Wright were together eating a New Year’s Day breakfast with their team when Williamson received word he was traded.

“That was pretty cool to know there was another familiar face in the organization,” Wright said. “It was not disappointing, but eye opening I guess. He’s signed with Seattle so he’s a part of the rivalry now, so it will be fun competing against him.”

Fraser Valley plays in the British Columbia Major Midget League, with several of the teams shadowing the names and logos of several Western Hockey League teams, including the Chiefs, the Silvertips and many more.

The BCMML’s Thunderbirds are enjoying a successful season, with Wright as their second leading scorer; Wright is tied for seventh in the British Columbia Major Midget League with 49 points and tied for third in assists with 33.

“I’m not undersized, but I’m smaller,” Wright said. “I use my speed to my advantage and I feel that I have really good vision. I can be a good playmaker. … I love the 200-foot aspect of the game. I feel like I can work well on both ends of the ice.”

The Thunderbirds are currently tied atop the BCMML with the Vancouver North East Chiefs at 56 points with just two games remaining. If Fraser Valley makes a playoff run, Wright could have a chance to compete at the Telus Cup, Canada’s National midget hockey tournament, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, from April 22-28.

“It’s been a really fun year,” Wright said. “Great group of guys and we’re having a successful year. Our coaches have been preaching simple hockey and it’s been working out a lot.”

Wright took in the Silvertips’ Jan. 18 tilt against Kelowna and signed a contract over that weekend. It fulfilled a dream come true.

“It was pretty surreal,” Wright said. “My family was down there and I was really excited. It was an awesome feeling to know that I’ve accomplished something that I always wanted to do.”

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Forwards

—Lucas Cullen (1999), West Kelowna Warriors, BCHL

Cullen was recently signed as an affiliate player and could appear in Everett at any time.

The 19-year-old center is a point-per-game player and is tied for 17th in the British Columbia Hockey League this season with 26 goals. He was a fifth-round pick by Calgary in 2014 and played 48 games with the Hitmen from 2016 to 2018, recording nine points.

The Warriors are tied at two games apiece in their first-round playoff series with the Wenatchee Wild. Cullen boasts seven points over the two games, including a four-point performance (two goals, two assists) in a 5-1 win in Game 2.

2018-19 stats: 49 games, 26 goals, 24 assists.

—Jacob Wright (2002), Fraser Valley Thunderbirds, BCMML

2018-19 stats: 36 games, 16 goals, 33 assists.

—Carter Halamandaris (2003), Winnipeg Wild Midget AAA, MMHL

The Portage la Prairie, Manitoba native hasn’t played is sixth on his midget team with 11 goals. The Wild finished atop the Manitoba Midget Hockey League regular season standings with 84 points, eight points ahead of the second-place team, Yellowhead. Halamandaris has posted three points (two goals, one assist) in the playoffs thus far, with the Wild leading the Winnipeg Bruins, 2-1, in a best-of-five quarterfinal series.

Halamandaris was Everett’s fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft.

2018-19: 34 games, 11 goals, eight assists.

—Nate Goodbrandson (2003), Winnipeg Thrashers Midget AAA, MMHL

The Thrashers are down 1-2 in their best-of-five playoff series with the Southwest Cougars. The St. Andrews, Manitoba finished the regular season strong with five goals over his last five games, but only has one goal over the Thrashers’ three playoff games. Goodbrandson, a seventh-round pick in 2018, signed a contract with the Silvertips in November.

He’s been scorching hot lately with dishing out assists, with a goal and seven helpers over his last five games.

2018-19 stats: 48 games, 19 goals, 33 assists.

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Defensemen

—Dylan Anderson (2002), Yale Hockey Academy Prep, CSSHL

The right-handed defenseman posted an assist in a three-game stint with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers, but he’s made his name with Yale Hockey Academy Prep in Abbotsford as nearly a point-per-game player with 27 points in 30 games. Anderson was a fourth-round pick in the bantam draft in 2017.

Yale and Anderson will start their 2019 playoff run on March 13 with their first game of pool play.

2018-19 stats: 30 games, five goals, 22 assists.

—Olen Zellweger (2003), OHA Edmonton Prep, CSSHL

Zellweger is fresh off an appearance with Team Alberta at the 2019 Canada Games in Red Deer, posting two points (one goal, one assist) to help lead Alberta to a Bronze Medal. Alberta trounced Team Saskatchewan, 12-0, in the Bronze Medal game, with Zellweger recording both his game in the beatdown.

Zellweger spent a couple weeks with the Silvertips as an affiliate player, although he didn’t dress for any of his five games. Zellweger was Everett’s second-pick in the 2018 bantam draft.

Zellweger and his midget team will start their 2019 playoff run on March 13 with their first game of pool play.

2018-19 stats: 35 games, eight goals, 19 assists.

—Ty Gibson (2003), South Island Royals, BCMML

The 15-year-old from Victoria, British Columbia competed for Team British Columbia, which finished seventh. Gibson chipped in two goals and an assist in seven games.

Gibson was Everett’s third-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft and signed before the 2018 training camp.

The South Island Royals are ninth out of 11 teams in the British Columbia Major Midget League with just two games remaining.

2018-19 stats: 33 games, five goals, seven assists.

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Goaltenders

—Danton Belluk (2001), Eastman Selects Midget, MMHL

Belluk joined the Silvertips for the team’s Eastern Conference swing after Blake Lyda landed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, but didn’t appear in a game. He’s been rock solid in the Manitoba Midget Hockey League, with the fifth best save percentage in the league (.922).

2018-19 stats: 40 games, 2.91 GAA, .922 %.

—Blake Lyda (2002), CAC Canadians Midget AAA, AMHL

Lyda started the season as the Silvertips’ backup goaltender behind Dustin Wolf, but an upper-body injury sent him to injured reserve and prompted the acquisition of Max Palaga. He was sent down to his midget team and owns a 3.97 goals against average in five games.

Lyda started two playoff games for his midget team, which were swept in three games against the St. Albert Raiders.

2018-19 stats: five games, 3.97 GAA, .895 %.

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All statistics are according to EliteProspects.com and current through Wednesday, March 6. Quotes from this interview originally appeared in the Everett Herald’s Silvertips podcast, Tips Talk, which can be subscribed to on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or wherever else podcasts are found.

Josh Horton covers the Everett Silvertips and AquaSox for The Everett Daily Herald. Follow him on Twitter (@joshhortonEDH) or reach out to him over email (jhorton@heraldnet.com).

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